The “Voter Fraud” Fraud
by Faiz Shakir, Benjamin Armbruster, George Zornick, Zaid Jilani, Alex Seitz-Wald, and Tanya Somanader
Employing baseless fear mongering about the (no longer existent) ACORN and other liberal groups that are supposedly trying to steal next week’s elections, conservative “anti-voter-fraud campaigns are popping up across the country, but their biggest rollouts have tended to be in lower-income areas with large minority populations.” From the Illinois Republican Party and Tea Party groups to the right-wing astro-turfing group American Majority Action, a startling number of right-wing groups have rolled out aggressive campaigns to “block DemocratsŠerr, voter fraud, at the polls,” as Mother Jones’ Suzy Khimm sarcastically noted. While campaigns and political parties have long dispatched trained poll watchers and election judges to the polls to look for irregularities, this year, conservative groups are turning to grassroots activists with little or no training in thinly-veiled efforts to suppress liberal voter participation. Right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin announced on Fox News that “we are all voter-fraud police now,” while American Majority Action lets anyone with an iPhone become a poll watcher with their Voter Fraud app. While combating fraud is of course important, these supposedly well-meaning efforts have a “chilling effect” on voter participation,
notes Gerry Hebert, executive director of the non-partisan Campaign Legal Center. Conservative groups tend to target their efforts at communities with large minority or Democratic populations, claiming that fraud is more prevalent in these neighborhoods, with the effect of suppressing Democratic voters and disenfranchising minorities. Other times, groundless allegations of voter fraud are simply used to rile up the base before Election Day and undermine the credibility of opponents, but have the dangerous effect of also undermining voters’ faith in the electoral process.